Beginning Readers - Reading Fluency

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS)

Program description

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) is a supplemental 1-1 peer tutoring program where elementary students work in pairs, taking turns as teacher and learner. The lessons involve reading aloud, listening to their partner read aloud, and providing structured feedback based on teacher training in five minute increments. The feedback involves identifying errors, initiating correction procedures, and awarding points for correctly read sentences. Additionally, activities include describing the main idea and predicting what comes next in the passage. Through these lessons PALS focuses on building phonemic awareness, phonics, sound blending, passage reading, and story retelling literacy skills. 

Student population

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) has been examined in Kindergarten and 1st grade among Black and White students in urban settings. Participants included typical readers, struggling readers, and English Language Learners across socio-economic strata. PALS has also been examined among 2nd-6th grade readers of varying ability levels in both urban and suburban settings. 

Current evidence

Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies (PALS) has been rated as Strong by Evidence for ESSA ( for emergent readers in grades K-1st grades and Moderate for struggling readers in 1st grade ( The What Works Clearinghouse rated PALS as having potentially positive effects for alphabetics, mixed effects for comprehension, and no discernable effects on reading fluency among Kindergarten and 1st grade readers ( For struggling readers and/or students with disabilities in 2-6th  grades the WWC rated PALS as having potentially positive effects comprehension ( 

For more information

Mathes, P. & Babyak, A. (2001). The Effects of Peer-Assisted Literacy Strategies for First-Graders With and Without Additional Mini-Skills Lessons. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 16 (1), 28-44.

Mathes, P., Torgensen, J., & Allor, J. (2001). The effects of peer-assisted literacy strategies for first-grade readers with and without additional computer-assisted instruction in phonological awareness. American Educational Research Journal, 38 (2), 371-410. 
Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., Mathes, P. G., & Simmons, D. C. (1997). Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies: Making classrooms more responsive to diversity. American Educational Research Journal, 34(1), 174–206.